Counterpunching and Side Stepping – Poetry in Motion!

by Fran on August 6, 2010

Side Step to Counterpunching Brilliance!

Slick little two-shot counterpunching combination here, with the side step joining up our straight shots at long range.  Remember when performing the side step (to the right as an orthodox boxer) that we need to account for the change in our position relative to our opponent.  If we side step right and don’t take the relative change into account, then our final shot will miss the target by the same amount of distance as we cover during the side step.  Think of the side step combining with a very slight pivot and this will align the body appropriately allowing the straight right hand to be delivered.

OK, the combination is:

  1. Jab
  2. Side step to the right
  3. Right Cross.

The side step begins when your jab is in the opponent’s face; don’t wait for your jab to return to the home position.  Make sure that the side step does not cover too much distance, be economical.  The right cross will impact as the opponent’s jab (in response to your jab) is still partially extended.  It’s a quick boxing combination, speed is key!  This combination gives further weight to the argument that counterpunching is proactive and that the best counter punchers dictate the pace of the fight, not their opponent!

Check out the article on boxing combinations to get more of an understanding of the technical theory behind building effective combinations.  In the meantime, leave a question or comment below.



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr.Impossible August 11, 2011 at 4:40 am

I’m not a boxer though I am fascinated w the art form and I’m a Martial Arts enthusiast. I tried something new in my heavy bag routine. I’ve been pushing the bag hard and have been letting it swing into me, to simulate blocking and countering. Does this sound completely crazy?!?!


Fran August 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm

No it does make sense. As long as a boxer didn’t carry the habit of the initial push into sparring or competition, then this is quite a good way of bringing some variety to a bag round. The double arm block can be used and you want to look at the short range hooks and uppercuts as counters. There’s the added bonus of developing the strength and getting used to impact of an object slamming into you, always useful! Thanks for the question.


lakshman August 11, 2010 at 5:04 am

Thanks a lot for ur thoughts….useful tips. However hope fran will also add up soon.



Karl August 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Hi lakshman,

I’m sure Fran will respond to you the next time he is online, but as a fellow beginner I thought I’d offer my thoughts…

The problems you mention are certainly not unique to you alone. I felt the same way. For one thing, hitting a solid stationary object like a heavy bag does not mimic the movement of an opponent. Also, lots of people do not work handpads properly (in my opinion). The person holding the pads shouldn’t slap aggresively at your gloves to give that loud ‘smack’ sound. Sure it feels good and sounds like you’re punching great, but again, it doesn’t mimic a real situation.

So when we switch from training equipment to an actual opponent it comes as a surprise when we don’t feel that solid ‘thud’ as we punch into them, or the satisfying ‘smack’ of a quick jab into the handpads.

Don’t get me wrong. You want to feel those thuds and smacks, but you must realize that it’s going to take more practice and strategy to acheive them. So try to think about how you can do this. For example, a punch to your opponents body will feel just as solid as a heavy bag if you hit him while he’s moving towards you.

Does your sparring partner target your head a lot? Let him! Time his movements, anticipate his punching, do the slightest of laybacks so his punch barely connects or just misses. He may try it once, then twice…. the third time a row…. bend your knees so your head drops below his punch and drive your fist forward into his body. If you catch him while he’s moving forward I guarantee you will feel a solid strong punch reverberate up your arm.

Do you tend to hit the heavy bag only when it’s swinging towards you? Try to hit it as it moves away as well. Chase it down with footwork. Dart in and out. This is closer to fighting. Does your handpad partner always press forward? Ask him to change it up and retreat. When he does this you will begin to realize the moments when he can retreat quickly and easily, and the moments when he cannot. You will know when he is flat footed. Use that knowledge during sparring.

Remember, a sparring partner is actively trying NOT to be at the end of your punches. Try to practice the same thing with the equipment in your gym.

Another thing. When I began sparring I only had one direction, forward. I would always want to press the attack. Don’t ignore the other directions. Moving backwards will draw the opponent towards you and stretch out his defense. It will stack his forward momentum onto the force of your punches.

So, how do you reach him? One way is to hit him when he’s trying to reach you.


lakshman August 7, 2010 at 11:13 am


Punching is what I wanna talk in here. I have started some light sparring with my coach’s advice. However I have some problems in finding my range and throwing punches. I feel my punches are not strong enough as I do while working on pads or bags. I feel like I am trying to reach my opponent and not hit him hard. It gets worse if the opponent has quick moves. I am not able to counter them. Is it a case all the begginers?? or is it unique in me alone?? Do I have any ways to work on it and get it right?? pls advice


Fran August 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm


I would certainly echo all of Karl’s comments, with his views on pad work being one of my real problems. In many years in the sport, I’ve not yet seen a single boxer who continually throws his/her head repeatedly at an opponent’s punches, so why do coaches do this on pads???

Understanding your range all comes down to experience, which you will gain as long as you stick at it. There are many variables to a punch landing ‘hard’ during sparring/boxing, and there are fewer variables when hitting a bag. Timing and range are key. Something you might try (if you can work with a partner) is the boxing footwork drill on this site. This will help you understand range without having to take punches, so you can relax and ‘feel’ for the range. If you haven’t already, check out the article on range finding in boxing, this also will help. You will get familiar with where you need to be, but it takes time and repetition. Good luck and let me know how you progress.



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